Moon Over Manifest
February 18, 2011
I just finished reading the 2011 Newbery Medal winner, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. It's a story about a 12-year-old girl named Abilene Tucker who is spending the summer of 1936 in her father's hometown of Manifest, Kansas. Her dad is a drifter who is away working on the railroad in Iowa. The book shifts back and forth to another storyline set in 1917 during World War I.
We learn about Manifest's interesting past and inhabitants through stories told by Miss Sadie (a medium or diviner), news columns written by Hattie Mae Harper (reporter about town), and letters written home by a young soldier fighting in WWI. It is a wonderful story that involves things such as murder, mystery, orphans and bootlegging, but also teaches us about family, community, and friendship.
While reading, I began to wonder about who picks a winner from all the excellent juvenile fiction written each year. I did some research and discovered these facts. The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year. On June 22, 1921, Frederic G. Melcher proposed the award to the American Library Association meeting of the Children's Librarians' Section, and suggested that it be named for the eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery. The idea was accepted by the children's librarians, and the proposal was approved by the ALA Executive Board in 1922.
The Newbery Award became the first children's book award in the world. The inscription on the bronze Newbery Medal still reads "Children's Librarians' Section," although the section has changed its name four times and its membership now includes both school and public library children's librarians. There are certain criteria that must be met for a book to be considered. For example, the book must be an original work, not a reprint, compilation or abridgement. The book must display respect for children's understandings, abilities and appreciations.
For a book to classify as a "distinguished" example of children's literature, it must be marked by eminence and distinction, show excellent quality and be individually distinct. I believe Moon Over Manifest is a perfect choice for this prestigious award.
Blue Springs South Branch